The Perse School

Pushing the boundaries on religion and creativity

Pupils discussed the connections between religion and creativity this afternoon with Baron Williams of Oystermouth, former Archbishop of Canterbury and master of Magdalene College.

Baron Williams was invited to the School by the ‘42’ society for this lunchtime talk, and spoke to a packed house.

He discussed the origins of religion and creativity, explaining that creativity means being able to see more than just the objects that surround us. It is more than being able to merely describe and list what we see, but also being able to explain it, respond to it and understand it, thus providing a new dimension to, and understanding of, the world around us.

He argued that whilst religion and creativity have existed alongside each other throughout history, they have done so both in harmony and with tension. He gave the example of writers such as Shakespeare, who constantly tested the boundaries of what was considered ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ by use of religious symbolism in his works. He explained that religion had to be able to survive alongside the so-called ‘dangerous’ side of creativity.

Summing up, he said that the coming together of religion and creativity was about “getting out of your comfort zone, pushing boundaries, and looking at the world from a different perspective.” He said that faith doesn’t ‘shrink’ or constrain us, rather we are empowered and ‘enlarged’ by it.

This talk captured the minds of the audience, who were given the opportunity to put questions to our guest speaker, including “has the role of religion declined in modern life?” and the all-important question of “what was it like to be the Archbishop of Canterbury?” Even after the bell for afternoon registration had sounded, there was still a crowd of pupils engaging in lively discussion and debate with Baron Williams.

Baron Williams’ visit today brought the Michaelmas term programme of guest speakers to a close. Topics have ranged from the Higgs Boson to the homeless and mathematics to assisted dying. We look forward to welcoming many more interesting and engaging visitors to the ‘42’ in the New Year.

 
 
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